The Literary Drover No. 5032

When I moved into my current home I did so with specific knowledge in hand: Work would be required on my part to make the house a home. The previous owners, after their fourth daughter moved out, decided that the time had come to travel. They put their furnishings into storage and turned the property over to a property management group that could have been named “Three irresponsible drunk frat brothers and an incontinent goat”. Simply and bluntly, the property management group responsible for the property did a very poor job of properly managing the condition of the property, allowing renters to do what renters are infamous for doing. The house was structurally sound but cosmetically it needed work. For example, the door for one bedroom was inexplicably off the hinges and stored in the back of the closet in the bedroom. The toilet on the lower level of the house worked, but when flushed alternated between a death rattle-like sound and a stutter that sounded like Donald Duck when he was using inappropriate language. Most of the lawn had been reduced to weeds and small rocks otherwise used for xeriscaping. Only one flower bed had flowers growing in it and they were in desperate need of care and pruning, and the other beds were covered with various forms of debris.

The first day after I moved in I went to the back yard, to the fence, and measured a square foot. I cleaned up the area inside the measurement, removing leaves and trash, and prepared the soil in the defined space for better things. The next day I repeated the process, starting on one side of the previously measured and tended area. Day after day I continued my pursuit until I worked my way around the side of the house and proceeded into the front yard.

Because of where I live I was able to gather leaves and twigs and send them to a local recycling yard where they were transformed into mulch. Some material gathered and removed had to be put out for the general trash, and by the end of the first week of living in my new home the trash dumpster was full.

Week after week I continued the required work, and when the landscape for my home had been cleaned and cleared of debris and trash I set about restoring the lawn and flower beds. Because the weather was good I was able to work outside in the morning and in the evening after spending the day working for a living.

Summer became Fall and I continued working. As I did I became aware of a relevant fact: A neighbor, who has since become a good friend. Retired from several professions he spent his days maintaining his property, and when he saw that I was making an effort to restore my home to a more acceptable state he introduced himself.

He did not offer opinion on my efforts. He did not criticize my accomplishments. He merely nodded as I worked, sweat often present on my person as I dug up this bit of rot and ruin or as I worked to restore or establish a section of landscape.

When the weather began to cool and because the exterior of my home was much improved I turned my attention to the interior of the house.

The aforementioned toilet was addressed. The door was rehung. Threadbare carpet was removed and replaced with hardwood floors. Painting was done. The kitchen and bathrooms were scoured, scrubbed, and cleaned.

The property took on the appearance of a living space.

Over the years I have continued my efforts and more than a few people have expressed praise for the improvements and the transformation from a residential embarrassment to a home others have copied in one form or another.

In order to keep my house a home I have made decisions regarding it. For example, when a neighbor took to leaving the trash from his fast food purchases on his yard and the wind blew them into my yard I gathered them into a black trash bag, and, when the bag was full, I put it on his front step. He got the message and proper disposal of the trash was undertaken.

Over the years, how I live in my home has extended beyond my home. The vehicles I drive are also kept in good condition. My wardrobe is in good condition. My life is in excellent condition.

I mention this personal information because it also applies to my Social Media presence. When I decided to start this blog I did so with specific facts in hand.

Fact: Ninety-nine percent of everything on Social Media can be discarded without concern because it has very little, if any, worth or value.

Fact: To make the most of worthwhile information on Social Media requires aggressive enforcement on my part, using block functions and filters.

Fact: Social Media has great potential and offers almost unlimited opportunity, but potential and opportunity can only come about through dedication, discipline, and determination on the part of the Individual.

Fact: Social Media is an extension and a reflection of the Individual, and the life an Individual chooses to live. I choose to have a healthy and fulfilling Life, and that is represented by the content of my Social Media presence. For example, I do not eat what is described as “junk food” in my real life. As a Writer I do not use language on my Social Media presence that can politely be described as “junk food”.

Fact: The Social Media presence that will stand out from others and endure is the Social Media effort that involves effort on the part of the Individual who creates and maintains it.

I mention these facts because it has come to my attention that the Social Media platform my Social Media presence is located on – WordPress – does not seem to agree with my opinions and assessments. Some time ago I noticed a dramatic drop in the traffic this blog was generating. Investigating the matter I learned about a practice now commonplace by Social Media platforms: Shadow banning. Bluntly, censorship using algorithms to supress specific Social Media accounts because the content published to the account does not support or advance the agenda of the Social Media platform.

Because I do not pay WordPress to host this blog I cannot and will not challenge their actions. I can and will, however, suggest caution be taken by those who use Social Media, specifically WordPress, because you might find yourself on the receiving end of censorship.

I mention the facts noted about Social Media because it has come to my attention that quality is not taken into consideration regarding promotion of a specific Social Media account. Again and again this opinion has been documented to be true and factual. For example, a blog brought to my attention by a friend and a fellow blogger.  The blog has been promoted for reasons that are not apparent. The blog showcased contains profanity, explicity threats, misspellings, punctuation errors, and other issues.

My response: If this is the standard I have no interest in pursuing the implied standard and accept that my efforts here will toil in obscurity.

Since starting this blog I have learned many things. One is a reminder of what transpires in my Life: In order to make the most of Social Media I must lead by example.

I start now.

The Literary Drover No. 3321

Storytellers, take note: https://www.wsj.com/articles/torrid-box-office-run-of-black-panther-underscores-a-growing-hollywood-problem-1522600746

The Literary Drover No. 3319

This is where I upset the Politically Correct applecart by stating the obvious but undeniably ugly truth of reality: You should get ahead in Life based on who you are, not what you are.

More than a few people who know me have sent a link to an op/ed piece thinly disguised as an objective news article, about what is considered to be “institutional racism. The thesis of this piece is that the color of a person’s skin should be the determining factor for them. That is, they should advance professionally because they are the correct shade of black.

This is me, politely shaking my head “No” in response to such assertions because I believe that you succeed in Life based on who you are, not what you are. I believe that it is your talents, skills, and abilities that result in legitimate, true, honest, and sincere success, and it is what you make of your life that determines your life, and related success; anything is fraud, and a cheat.

Consider the following as example: There is one fellow I will call “Jeff” and there is another guy I will call “Tom”.

Jeff decided that he wanted to become The Next Big Thing. In Hollywood. The year he graduated college he spent several thousand dollars given to him by an aged relative to make a short film – his portfolio, his calling card for breaking into the film industry. He took the film, and several thousand dollars more, and moved to the Los Angeles area. A year later he returned to his hometown and married. His wife, although understanding of his goals and desires, said that he could have one year to break into the industry in Hollywood and if he did not do so he would agree to return with her to the city they were living in at the time.

Two years later his wife filed for divorce.

To make a long story he has been married and divorced four times. He filed personal bankruptcy once and a bankruptcy on a business. He was sued by a former business partner and several others in several other legal actions. He lost all the cases, and the law mandated that he pay all legal expenses and he was required to pay out a specific amount of money in each case. All four divorces resulted in him paying out half of his worldly possessions, which had to be liquidated to satisfy the court, and then he was sued by the talent agency that had represented him at one time because of a previous legal action that almost landed him in jail, and because they discovered he had lied more than once on his resume.

This brings me to “Tom”. When Tom was about to reach the advanced age of sixteen years old his parents asked him wanted he wanted for a gift. He said that he wanted to become a filmmaker and to do so would involve a film or video camera.

Tom’s parents were not financially well-off, so they made a suggestion: If Tom was serious about filmmaking they would get him wanted he wanted. But the gift would be his birthday and Christmas gift, and he would need to pay a third of the cost. (At that time video cameras were expensive, compared to the cost of a video camera presently.) Tom agreed to the suggestion, and set to learning about the camera, how to shoot video with the camera, how to edit, how to compose a shot, and how to tell a story. When he was comfortable with his educational pursuits he directed and edited a thirty-second video. He then made a list of one hundred businesses where he lived and contacted fifty of them, with a proposal: He wanted to become a filmmaker, and that involved creating a portfolio of work. He would produce commercials for them at cost in order to create his portfolio.

Twenty-five of the businesses he contacted responded that they would meet with him to discuss specifics. Twelve of the businesses he met with agreed to let him produce commercials for them at cost. Six of those businesses requested additional commercials advertising their businesses, and agreed to let Tom have bigger budgets. Five of the six businesses requested a third commercial from Tom. Four of the five businesses requested a four commercial from Tom, providing larger budgets for the commercials involved. Three of the four businesses established contracts with Tom to produce at least one new commercial a year.

All of this happened before Tom reached the age of eighteen, and started college – where he studied filmmaking.

By the time Tom graduated college he was producing a commercial a week. He had also directed and edited several longer-form videos that were categorically training videos, and that portion of his portfolio resulted in him getting more work: By the time Tom graduated college his production company was producing twelve training videos a year.

Despite this success Tom decided to go to Hollywood and see if he could break in. He left the management of his production company in competent hands, and made it known that if he did not break into Hollywood in a year he would return, resume running his business as it was, and no more would be said of his adventure.

Six weeks to the day after Tom left for Hollywood he returned, making it known that he decided Hollywood was not for him. He also made it known to the eleven employees who worked for his production company that he had decided to finance his own productions.

Today Tom’s production company employs more than five hundred full-time employees, and the gross revenues of the company are in excess of one hundred million dollars.

By the way “Jeff” comes from middle-class family. A white middle-class family. “Tom” comes from a working-class family. His mother is a legal American citizen from Viet Nam. His father is a seventh-generation Hispanic, also a legal American citizen.

So you can see: My opinion and believe about what comes of your life being based on your choices is true.

As to that alleged article about “institutional racism”: It happens because people let it happen. They let it happen because they choose not to make the most of their life – they let their life be defined by what they are, instead of who they are.

The Literary Drover No. 3307

I blocked you? Yes, I blocked you. Here’s why:

The first time I heard the phrase “Social Media” I had no idea what it meant, mostly because I tend to be a literalist and could not conceive of a media that was social, interactive. The first time I heard the phrase “Facebook” I again failed to grasp it because my imagination, framed by pragmatism, suggested something involving my face.

Unlike many people I did not establish a Facebook account because others did it –  I am not giving to the herd mentality when it comes to technology and trends. The reason I established a Facebook account was because a Writer I know did so when he realized the basic mailing list he was maintaining for family, friends, and fans of his writing was taking up too much of his writing time, and he needed another way of keeping those interested current on his adventures and antics. Facebook was the solution for the moment.

After I established a Facebook account to follow him I did what a lot of people did and do – I succumbed to impulse buying: I followed this person, that business, this organization, and quickly realized I lacked the time and interest required to keep current on everything I was apparently interested in. My response was to unfollow this person, that business, this organization and focus on a few things. Despite this decision I found that a growing number of people on Facebook wanted to interact with me: Spammers, trolls, and others who apparently lacked focus, purpose, and meaning in their real lives. I responded by using the block function.

Which . . . worked for a time – until I learned that Facebook has an upper limit on the number of blocks you can impose. When this fact became known to me I considered ending my relationship with Facebook, but decided I should find another form of Social Media that would allow me to be, oh, social.

Twitter seemed the likely successor, until I realized that Twitter, when it comes to fraud, was even worse that Facebook, and although there seemed to be no limit on the number of Twitter accounts I could block doing so became a waste of time owing to a relevant truth and fact: For every account on Twitter I blocked another hundred or so fake accounts that should be blocked. Again, I decided to find another form of Social Media that would allow me to be social but did not allow the level of fraud and annoyance by spammers and trolls found on Facebook or Twitter.

I had been experimenting with a blog – this blog – and determined that it had less spammers and trolls than other Social Media platforms, and I could do more with it than I could with either Facebook or Twitter.

 

Then one day, something happened. I blocked one spammer and two took their place. I blocked those two spammers and four trolls took their place. I persisted in blocking spammers and trolls and was able to reach a point when there were no trolls or spammers interrupting me with their irrelevant posts, but. . .

A new species reared its ugly head on Social Media: The individual who lives to argue with everyone about everything. The person who apparently resides in their parents’ basement or crawlspace, and spends their waking hours trying to provoke others into an argument, and when they lose, run away until they can come back and start the antagonism again and again.

Despite my successful efforts to fumigate for spammers and trolls this. . . person was not easily dispatched. I ignored the first few deliberately and obviously irritating notes sent my way, and that only served to encourage. So I did the only thing I could do:

I blocked them.

I have also taken to blocking their advocates, supporters, friends, and family members who think being rude and disrespectful is a good way to present themselves on Social Media. I have also decided to make the most of my Social Media presence – this blog – by privately rewarding those who contribute to the Social Media universe with worthwhile comments and response. I will continue to block people who like to waste my time.

If you learn that I have blocked you it is because you have chosen to waste your life. It is because you are not civil, polite, respectful, or contribute to the advancement, betterment, and fulfillment of the human race through the potential and opportunity of Social Media.

The Literary Drover No. 3077

It has come to my attention, by way of research on my part regarding the matter, that a blog on WordPress which does not publish posts containing a minimum numbers of words, thereby favoring the long form format and construct of the blog, will not be considered – as in showcased or favored in an index or list for others to become aware of.

It is my opinion, based on experience spanning many years, that a Writer will only use the words needed to communicate the intention; no more, no less, and the subjective expectation involving an arbitrary threshold that they do otherwise is, at best, idiotic and asinine.